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Domestic Influences on Latin American Importation of U.S. Armaments

William P. Avery
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2600112 121-142 First published online: 1 March 1978


Despite persistent concern over and criticism of U.S. policy toward the Latin American military, little systematic attention has been directed to possible explanatory factors in Latin American acquisitions of U.S. armaments. An empirical examination of several domestic influences (economic, political, and military related) indicates that the availability of economic resources is the primary factor associated with U.S. arms transfers to Latin America during the period 1961–1971. Political factors on the whole do not exert as much influence on arms acquisitions as might be expected, although political instability makes a sizable contribution to the explained variance when the other variables are controlled. Somewhat unexpectedly, military participation in government has no systematic effect on imports. Military-related variables (defense spending and troop size) have only a marginal effect on acquisitions. In sum, the countries of Latin America, in decisions concerning the importation of U.S. arms, seem to take into account political and military factors only after having first considered their level of economic capabilities and resources.

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